La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Three thoughts from LEN3: Morneau, Marquis, spanking the Yankees

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 19, 2012 - 2:21 AM

Anthony Swarzak has a chance to pitch the Twins to a series win in New York tomorrow. Here are three things on my mind after the Twins' 6-5 win on Wednesday:

1. Is Morneau back?: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire played the, "let's not get ahead of ourselves," card after the game. But Morneau is confident, he's seeing the ball well, he's not worried about his surgically-repaired wrist and THAT swing looks familiar

I asked him how much progress has he made with his swing since the start of spring training.

"I think the confidence in my wrist and the strength has come a long way,'' he said. "I’ve been able to build strength instead of just maintain it. I think when I got home I was trying to overswing a little bit and tried to hit the ball too hard. I tried to make up for lost time and tried to do too much. And that’s never a good thing. But I think getting out the road helped me relax a little bit. I’m out there trying to help us win ballgames instead of trying to hit five-run homers. We have a chance to win a series here which would be big considering the rough start we got off to."

2. Jason Marquis: Great night for him considering how much he's been through. Like Carl Pavano on Monday, Marquis looked like he was about to get run out of the park in the first inning but remained calm and cobbled together five solid outings. That, plus the fact that Hiroki Kuroda's sinker was non-existent, allowed the Twins to put together a nice win.

Can Pavano and Marquis please take Francisco Liriano out to lunch a few times and teach him how to pitch with his superior stuff?

3. Spanking the Yankees: I have not seen the Twins win more than one game in a week here since 2001. That was Tom Kelly's final year as manager. Ron Gardenhire has had to wear his record here but has a chance to win three out of four games before heading to Tampa. Can they solve Phil Hughes? Can Anthony Swarzak keep it up? Glen Perkins should be available, which is huge in this park..

Looking at the Twins roster. they have several players who haven't been around for drought here. Carroll, Willingham, Burroughs,. Marquis, Pavano, Doumit. Plus, Mauer and Morneau crush at this park. It's a different Twins team that doesn't have to be reminded of the past.

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